Get ready for a very meta experience. Doctor Who: The Ruby’s Curse by Alex Kingston is a book written by River Song, a character in Doctor Who played by the author of this very book, about Melody Malone.
In the book, Melody and River influence each other to the point that River isn’t sure where Melody stops, and she begins, or who’s more real. But this is a real book that can be read in the real world now. Which adds another level of complexity to the story when you’re thinking about it. It sounds a little weird, but it’s a really good read, and not really that difficult to get when you’re reading (as opposed to when you’re trying to explain it!).
[Warning, my review of this book contains some spoilers!]
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Two wildly different stories in Doctor Who: The Ruby’s Curse
Despite what sounds like a strange premise, the story within the story is mostly a down-to-earth murder mystery set in the 1930s. Melody Malone is a tough private eye in New York City who’s hired to track down a stolen ruby. Did I mention the ruby is cursed? Everyone who comes in contact with it dies.
Still, a girl’s gotta eat. So she starts to look for the stone, but the more she looks, the weirder things get. Bodies are also piling up left and right. It’s starting to look like the thing might actually be cursed. If she didn’t have to eat, Melody would have walked away long before the end.
As we’re reading all about Melody Malone and the Eye of Horus, River Song, Melody’s author, keeps interrupting the narrative with her own adventures. This time, River has broken into a high-security prison and locked herself in solitary confinement. Why would she do this, you ask? Well, she has a deadline to hit for her next Melody Malone mystery. And she needs a little peace and quiet to finish it in time. I guess all the beach houses were booked?
Anyway, while River is in there, she becomes acquainted with a fellow prisoner (through the heating duct, of course). He shares his sad tale with her. The prisoner found an artifact that gave him nearly limitless power. But it warped his mind and pushed him into doing horrible things.
River is half convinced that if she’d been the one to find the artifact, she could have done great things with it and not fallen victim to its dangers. But she knows the folly of such thoughts, so she tries to focus on her book.
Then the jail is invaded by people looking for the device, and Song is faced with a dilemma: let them find it and use it for their own nefarious purposes, or find it herself first. But will she be able to resist its siren song? And when will she ever finish her book?! As we all know, River isn’t a fan of spoilers, so you’ll have to read Doctor Who: The Ruby’s Curse to find out these answers!
A Doctor Who book without the Doctor
The Ruby’s Curse is written by a Doctor Who character, well known from a slew of Doctor Who episodes. Its frame story is about River Song, the Doctor’s wife, whose journey with the Doctor is out of order, with her first meeting with David Tennant’s Doctor being her end.
But the Doctor isn’t really in Doctor Who: The Ruby’s Curse. The Doctor is mentioned a little by River, but that’s about it. Which is a little odd for something with Doctor Who on the cover. However, the story is fascinating and fun even without the Doctor.
The nice thing is that it makes the book more accessible to a wider range of readers. You don’t have to know anything about Doctor Who to enjoy The Ruby’s Curse because it’s only tangentially related. Doctor Who fans will love the parts that connect back to the show, but everyone else will enjoy the story without worrying about the show.
Weird twists make for a fun tale in Alex Kingston’s Doctor Who novel
So River’s story has some fun twists, Melody’s story has some fun twists, and then the two twist together for a wild Möbius strip of a story. Each chapter is labeled with the time and location that it takes place in. This is a big help when it comes to keeping track of just where and when you are (and whose story you’re in).
River and Melody both have very big personalities, and it doesn’t matter which one you’re reading about, you love them both. And when they get together, it’s pure gold. You can tell that Kingston knows River Song through and through, embodying the energy and thoughts perfectly. So do some stretches, make sure you’re ready for all the twists and turns, and enjoy Doctor Who: The Ruby’s Curse today.
My Rating: 8/10
Doctor Who: The Ruby’s Curse by Alex Kingston is available now! Let us know on social media @mycosmiccircus or in The Cosmic Circus Discord if you have read this book or plan to add it to your TBR list!
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